MISSOULA — The Maclay Bridge in Missoula will be closed for repairs soon after residents spotted two holes in the deck.
Missoula County Public Works officials say the span is safe to drive on for now, but this isn’t the first time they’ve had to shut off access to the controversial bridge.
County engineer Erik Dickson says they’ve been aware of the holes for several weeks.
"This structure, when it was rehabilitated in 2004 was closed for almost three months. People get used to it," he said.
"The emergency service responders definitely plan for it. They have enough redundancy they have enough staff on hand they accommodate the closure," Dickson added.
He says the bridge was also closed in 2013 for similar problems.
“It will take several days per hole to repair so we’ll work long days and get it done as fast as we can so it’s not a huge inconvenience for the public for too long.”
Repairs are scheduled to begin on Monday Oct. 7 and the bridge will be closed during that work week.
“Well try to get it open as early as we can, definitely keep it open through the weekend and then continue through the following week”
They will make repairs to six areas on the bridge with the biggest section being eight-to-10 feet wide.
The project involves removing asphalt surfacing and the steel plate under deck which will expose the bare stringers.
Crews will then clean up an edge, reinstall new metal plates, and build asphalt surface back up.
Dickson says the county commissioners are working on an environmental document for a replacement bridge.
“It’s an issue that is not going away. Sometimes it quiets down, but it is definitely an ongoing project that the county commissioners are committed to.”
The environmental document will be sent to the Montana Department of Transportation for review in the coming weeks.
Construction would take a couple years to complete if a replacement is approved.
Dickson adds the bridge is being monitored almost daily, and the commissioners have also considered updating the current structure instead of completely replacing it.